April 7 2010 12:00 AM

A new poll sheds light on Bernero's Dillon/Cox attacks

As the gubernatorial race continues, the polls do, too. And they are starting to become more interesting.

An Epic MRA poll released Tuesday shows that Democrats are still having a hard time with name recognition, but not as much as in polls past — and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero’s numbers against his closest rival, House Speaker Andy Dillon, are improving.

The most recent poll, taken between March 28 and 31 of 600 likely voters statewide, show 15 percent would vote for Bernero, while Dillon would get 22 percent and Alma Wheeler Smith 11 percent. But, when short biographies of each candidate are read to a voter, Bernero’s numbers improve greatly: He polls at 29 percent compared to Dillon’s 24 percent, and Smith’s 20 percent.

However, the Democratic gubernatorial candidates, overall, still have a name-recognition problem: Forty-two percent still don’t know a Democratic candidate. And even when biographies are read, each candidate still has a giant name recognition gap.

Bernie Porn, EPIC-MRA president, said that the Democrats got into the game late and are suffering. Porn said that, come election time, the candidates should ideally have the number of people who don’t know them down in the teens or single digits.

But speaking of getting the message out, Bernero has in the last week spent a good amount of time attacking Dillon and Attorney General Mike Cox, a Republican candidate for governor (the poll pitted Bernero and Cox in a hypothetical match up, and Cox came out on top 44 percent Virg’s 30 percent), over their stance on recent federal health care reform.

Last Thursday, Bernero held a press conference to criticize Dillon for his stance as “undecided” on health care based on a quote in the MIRS newsletter. Bernero released an Internet video Tuesday hitting both Cox and Dillon. Cox has joined 13 other attorneys general to stop the legislation. In Bernero’s video, a narrator mocks a quote on Dillon’s Web site, “As with any act of its size and magnitude, both federal and state governments will have to continually study and analyze aspects of the new law so as to manage it in an effective and efficient way. That's my pledge as your candidate for governor.”

According to the Epic MRA poll, Bernero is on the right track with the attacks.
According to the poll, 81 percent of Democrats say the legislation is good, and 85 percent of Republicans say it is bad.

“If Dillon is caught saying he has questions (about the health care legislation), that’s inconsistent with a vast majority of (Democratic) voters,” Porn said.

More surprisingly, 41 percent of independent voters say the health care legislation is good, which means a large percentage of a very desirable voting block is probably open to a candidate who supports the legislation.